I have three kids. One is 8 (I have no idea what you call the 8-year-old phase of life) and the other two are toddlers. This means that I have some experience - and expertise - in the art of what toddlers like. Which is important because one of the most frequent questions I’ve received in life is “what should I get for your kid for his/her birthday?” I'm fortunate.

If you’re like me and mines, though you will publicly declare on the social medias your  plan to NOT have a birthday party celebrating each year of your kid’s life (often stating things like, “they’ll never remember anyway” and “that’s too expensive”) you absolutely will find ways to have celebrations where you invite all of the adults you know with chirrens. Some of these events will have liquor because any party with 20 children under 10, no matter the age distribution, variance, or standard deviation, will be an absolute madhouse and a drink or twelve wouldn’t even be frowned upon by child services.


To accompany any toddler’s birthday party is usually a plethora of gifts the parents already own (we all shop at the exact same places AND people buy gifts from the same places we shop) and gift cards. Gift cards are awesome because they can be used to buy things we don’t already have, typically the things we need. But here’s the real question: What do the kids want? It’s the question every kid wants to let you know the answer to, but when you can only say that you’re “this many” when somebody asks your age, there’s a good chance articulating your wants is difficult.

Well, because I’m feeling generous today and because I have so much experience in the Child Arts, here are the things that I’ve noticed that my kids and other people’s kids that I’ve been around seem to enjoy the most (and thus want), assuming you’re looking to get things for them and not just come drink my fine liquors at the birthday party.

1. Bubbles

You can go spend $75 on that plastic builder set that I’ll open, spend two hours assembling that’s missing a few screws for some odd reason, that my kids will kinda sorta maybe play with by coloring on it and putting stickers all over turning it into a living art installation that will likely NEVER get used for its intended purpose OR you can go spend $10 bucks and get, like, 5 bubble wands or some sort of bubble maker and make these children happier than they ever knew was possible. I don’t know what it is about bubbles, but to kids, bubbles are THE SHIT. Take some kids outside and blow some damn bubbles and you’ll see pure, unmitigated joy, love, and happiness that even Al Green couldn’t articulate. Bubbles is where it’s at, fam.


2. Outside

Say heffa, say what?  Outside? Yaaaaaaaaaasss. Outside. Listen, there is nothing more alluring to a kid who says “no” “mine” and “bubbles” than outside. True story, my one-year-old pitches a pure fit EVERY.TIME. somebody walks out the door at my home and he doesn’t get to go. It’s like outside is the world’s greatest club and he can’t get in. He cannot get into the outside. Word to Home. Outside is the gift that keeps on giving. To kids, the outdoors is an amazing array of possibilities, even if you literally only go into the backyard or  to the sidewalk. Nigga, if you take a kid outside with bubbles? Bruh. You might as well be Black Jesus.

3. Blocks

I’m loathe to say blocks because it’s the one thing that I’m guessing most  homes from the least well-off to the most financially stable have in abundance. Kids love them some blocks. Even big kids can find something to do with a buffet of colorful blocks laying on the floor. The thing about blocks is that they get lost, misplaced, and thrown away very easily. A set that starts out at 100 on Monday is probably down to 37 on Friday. More blocks. I can just put them bitches in a closet and pull them out when needed. I took my two-year-old son to Toys ‘R Us the other day to let him pick out anything he wanted (under $20 bucks but he ain’t need to know all of that) and sure as shootin’, he picked out some more blocks. Blocks for the win.


4. Water

I know. This one also makes no sense. But listen, kids love water. It’s like “outside” to them. They just want to be part of it and play with it and splash it and throw it. They don’t care if it’s a bathtub or outside with bubbles in a plastic kiddie pool. Water is always the win. You show up with a gallon of water and my kid will be dumbfounded. You pour said water in the bathtub and put them in there and Black Jesus again. Dog, the sprinkler? All the giggles.

5. Boxes

Have you ever watched kids at Christmas open gifts? The boxes get all the run from tiny kids. Get you a pack of boxes and you might ascend to auntie or uncle status. Put some blocks in that box? And bubbles? Bruh.


Bonus: iPad

My two-year-old knows entirely how to navigate the world of my iPad, both utilizing Netflix, pulling up his sister’s account and choosing movies to his liking. The same with YouTube Kids videos. He has favorites. For those that don’t know, videos of white people opening up toys is very popular for some reason. White people stay winning.